Carrying Your Love With Me
In My World There Is No Such Thing as The Family Home
The longest I have ever lived in one dwelling is 5 years. Hubby and I spent 2 consecutive 5 year intervals in 2 different rentals--the top floor of a 2 family house and a rented house. Outside of college, where I followed the 5 year undergrad plan and the 3 year grad plan—all at the same college--the longest I was in the same school system was 4.5 years—half of 6th grade through 10th grade. I’ve never lived in the same town as my grandparents or aunts or uncles. And as an adult, I’ve never even lived in the same town as my parents—the closest is now, where my mom and my sister are 45 minutes away. I consider this close; they still describe this as far.
Our Family's Unwritten Motto: Bloom Where You're Planted
When I was a kid, my parents prided my sister and me for being flexible and easy to move. We prided ourselves on our ability to welcome new places and make new friends. I am friendly. That is true. And I’ve always found it kind of adventurous to learn new things about a place—new places to go and things to do. I like experiencing new things and checking out the unknown.
I don’t even like to go to the same restaurants or to the same vacation spots.
But Hubby who spent all his growing up years in the same school system and the same town until he was married (to his ex) and had 3 kids, has helped me recognize some of the benefits of returning to a familiar place. He likes going to the same restaurant; he particularly likes it with the wait staff greet us and know his drink (a bourbon Manhattan straight up), and is delighted if they call him by his last name. He likes reliving meals in restaurants we’ve gone to in other towns, likes to be familiar with the routes to get around, likes to return to the same museums to review their collections again and look at the same islands and lighthouses just off shore. It took me awhile to appreciate the relaxation that can come from these reclaimed sites. And in fact, one of our most common spats is my annoyance at his reminiscing about someplace we’ve been when we are in a new place.
Reluctant to Be Regionally Arrogant
While I admit that I find a certain pleasure in trekking with my family to their ritualized events—like checking out the Christmas window at Hutson’s in downtown Cape Girardeau, and eating spaghetti at Jim’s Spaghetti House with my stepmother in Huntington, or even putting flowers on my grandmother’s grave in Pensacola—I also have to admit that I find some ties to the local routines, well, provincial. I find it simultaneously endearing and annoying when people compare their local bands or plays as “as good as you’d get in a big city.” Or when they think their little local restaurant has the “best” something. . .donuts or hot dogs or whatever.
At the same time, I lay claim to a lot of areas and things, whether I’ve spent a lifetime there or not. I claim NH blizzards and MA hurricane watches. I claim MO humidity and AL palmetto bugs. I claim the smell of wet sand in FL and the ubiquitous servings of grits in GA. I claim KY’s country music and PA’s Longwood Gardens. I claim steel mills, King’s Island, and Appalachia. I’ll strike up a conversation with anyone who claims to be from any of these places and refer to their lands as “home.”
Embracing My Inner Wanderer
Every now and then, I feel like I have no place to call home—I feel awkward when someone asks me where I’m from. But most of the time, I count on my wanderin' ways to help me make connections with people from all over and help me feel at home wherever I am.